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The Child in Pain
The goal of this program is to improve the evaluation and treatment of pediatric musculoskeletal pain syndrome. After hearing and assimilating this program, the clinician will be better able to:
1. Distinguish between inflammatory arthropathies and musculoskeletal pain syndromes in children.
2. Perform clinical evaluations for diagnosis of various pediatric musculoskeletal pain syndromes.
3. Prescribe appropriate treatment for different musculoskeletal pain syndromes in children.
4. List possible causes of musculoskeletal back pain in children.
5. Recognize red flags that indicate serious underlying pathology in children with back pain.
In adherence to ACCME Standards for Commercial Support, Audio-Digest requires all faculty and members of the planning committee to disclose relevant financial relationships within the past 12 months that might create any personal conflicts of interest. Any identified conflicts were resolved to ensure that this educational activity promotes quality in health care and not a proprietary business or commercial interest. For this program, the following has been disclosed: Dr. Passo is a consultant to Pfizer. Dr. Bernstein and the planning committee reported nothing to disclose. In his lecture, Dr. Passo presents information that is related to the off-label or investigational use of a therapy, product, or device.
Dr. Passo spoke at Frontiers in Pediatrics, held December 4–6, 2009, in Charleston, SC, and sponsored by the Medical University of South Carolina. Dr. Bernstein spoke at Head to Toe: Orthopaedic Aspects of the Growing Child, held October 10, 2009, in Los Angeles, CA, and sponsored by Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. The Audio-Digest Foundation thanks the speakers and the sponsors for their cooperation in the production of this program.
Musculoskeletal Pain Syndrome in Children — Pattern Recognition
Murray H. Passo, MD, Professor of Pediatrics, Director, Division of Rheumatology, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston
Pattern recognition: listen to patient’s complaints; make informed guess as to correct diagnosis, then attempt to verify it (or find an alternative)
Inflammatory diseases of connective tissue associated with musculoskeletal pain: juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA; currently preferred term for juvenile rheumatoid arthritis [JRA]); systemic lupus; dermatomyositis; scleroderma; mixed connective tissue disease
Inflammatory arthropathy: distinguished by inactivity, stiffness, and swelling; aching and soreness; occasionally, severe pain; swelling is hallmark of inflammation (due to synovial thickening, tissue swelling, or effusion in joint); some loss of motion (with or without pain); warmth; occasionally, discoloration
Inflammatory enthesopathy: distinguished by pain and tenderness in insertion sites of ligament, tendon, and fascia; inactivity, stiffness, and gelling; can occur with joint swelling; cardinal features of enthesitis present in spondyloarthropathies
Diagnosis: of 226 children referred for chief complaint (CC) of musculoskeletal pain (MSP), only one case of ankylosing spondylitis (AS) found, and no JRA; 64 of 76 JRA patients did not include MSP in CC; take-home points — most patients referred for MSP have either mechanical or overuse syndrome; MSP has negative predictive value for JRA; signs and symptoms predictive of JRA — joint swelling; disturbance of gait (limping); shorter duration of symptoms; elevated erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) (helpful, although not diagnostic); positive antinuclear antibody (ANA), rheumatoid factor (RF) of limited utility
Arthralgia and positive ANA or RF: even with positive serology, must have objective findings (swelling of joint) to diagnose arthritis; comprehensive physical examination and review of systems may uncover lupus or other ANA-related diseases; re-evaluations may be necessary to confirm diagnosis; most often, patients with positive serologies do not have autoimmune disease (3%-5% of normal children have positive ANA)
Symptoms: prevalence 4% to 37% of normal children; more common in girls than boys; episodic, with symptom-free intervals; bilateral; more often in lower extremities; occurs at end of day or may awaken child from sleep; short duration; usually in muscles between joints, but occasionally in joints; no objective abnormalities (swelling or discoloration)
Etiology: related to “being a growing person,” rather than to growth itself; not observed in adults; theories — lower pain threshold; fatigue; faulty posture; emotional contribution; decreased bone strength with overuse syndrome; hypermobility; flexible flat feet
Diagnosis: pattern recognition of history; thorough negative physical examination; laboratory tests and imaging usually unnecessary (occasionally, complete blood count [CBC] and ESR); x-rays and radionucleotide imaging rarely performed
Treatment: reassurance, heat, massage, analgesics, stretching and strengthening exercises, shoe insoles, occasionally, behavioral intervention and awareness of family environment
Benign Hypermobility Syndrome
Prevalence: occurs in 7% to 34% of normal children; underrecognized cause of joint pain in children; frequency inversely related to age
Symptoms: associated with arthralgia, especially after activity; short-lived joint effusions can occur; if effusions persist, seek alternative explanation (may be associated with inflammatory arthritis); family history frequently positive for joint laxity (autosomal dominant inheritance)
Diagnosis: Beighton score — assessment of joint laxity; hypermobility of ankles, feet, shoulders, and hips excluded; 8 sites of hyperextension plus forward flexion with knees straight and hands flat on floor (ie, total of 9 possible points); major criteria — include Beighton score of ³4/9; Brighton criteria — newer scheme for diagnosing hypermobility syndrome; diagnosis requires 2 minor criteria plus one major criterion, or 4 minor criteria
Association between arthralgia and hypermobility of joints: 34% hypermobile; study found 50% of hypermobile patients had arthralgia, vs 20% of matched controls; suggests that hypermobility probably does cause transient postactivity arthralgia; not benign; associated difficulties — poor coordination; proprioceptive abnormalities; learning difficulty; autonomic dysfunction of gastrointestinal tract; panic attacks; pain amplification syndromes; sleep disorders; hernias
Anterior Knee Pain
Patellofemoral compartment syndrome: formerly called chondromalacia patellae; pain in peripatellar area
History: insidious vague aching in peripatellar region; often bilateral; grating, clicking, or catching sensation; leg gives out; pain worse during and after activities that load knee in flexion; prolonged sitting aggravates pain
Pathophysiology: abnormal patellar tracking (usually valgus deformity); weakness of vastus medialis muscle; hypermobility of patella or knee joint; abnormal bony structure
Physical examination: look for — patellar apprehension sign; patellar mobility; tenderness of medial patellar facet; tenderness of inferior pole of patella; synovial plica; genu valgum (Q angle >20º); insufficiency of vastus medialis; tight hamstrings; weak hip flexors
Diagnostic tests: synovial fluid analysis if effusion present; x-rays (sunrise view, tunnel view)
Differential diagnosis: osteochondritis dissecans; Osgood-Schlatter disease; patellar tendonitis
Treatment: nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs); ice after activity; limitation of aggravating activities; strengthening of quadriceps; patellar stabilizing brace; hamstring stretching exercises; orthotic device for hypermobile or flat feet; surgery (rare)
Signs and symptoms: osteoarticular pain — common in malignancy; usually in long bones, though small joints may be involved; can be severe (often disproportionate to physical findings); other — effusions in joints; lytic lesions, meta-physeal rarefaction, or periosteal reaction on x-ray; cytopenia; positive RF and/or ANA
Malignancies presenting with osteoarticular pain: acute lymphoblastic leukemia; non-Hodgkin lymphoma; metastatic neuroblastoma; keys to diagnosis — CBC with differential; platelet count; serum lactase dehydrogenase (LDH); radiographs; bone scans; abdominal ultrasonography; bone marrow aspirate and biopsy; tissue biopsy
Musculoskeletal Pain Syndromes
Diffuse idiopathic pain syndromes: fibromyalgia; psychogenic rheumatism
Localized idiopathic pain syndromes: hypermobility syndrome; growing pains; reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD)
Amplified musculoskeletal pain syndromes: RSD (also called reflex neurovascular dystrophy [RND]); may have autonomic dysfunction, allodynia, and/or affective changes; exercise therapy key to recovery; psychologic interventions may be necessary; long-term outcome good
Reflex Neurovascular Dystrophy
Signs and symptoms: usually distal extremity (upper or lower); in upper extremity, called shoulder-hand syndrome; severe pain; autonomic dysfunction with hyperesthesia or allodynia; paresthesias in nondermatome distribution; diffuse brawny swelling of limb (usually distally); pallor and coolness to touch; cyanosis; bizarre posturing (refusal to move limb); antecedent trauma; psychologic contribution implicated in most patients
Typical profile: compliant; overachieving; preadolescent female; undue stress from family psychodynamics or school; provoked by antecedent event of trauma or illness; serves functional role by allowing child to slow down and obtain parental attention; can turn into severe painful syndrome; requires expeditious diagnosis and treatment
Evaluation: must be sufficient to be confident of diagnosis
Diagnosis: x-rays to rule out occult bone abnormality or fracture; radionucleotide imaging; nerve studies if neuropathy suspected; Doppler vascular studies if ischemia suspected
Treatment: avoid immobilization; intense physical therapy (desensitization); graded stepwise re-utilization of the limb; psychologic intervention
Prognosis: dystrophic changes rare; most patients recover fully; recurrences common
History: chronic widespread musculoskeletal pain syndrome; diagnosis requires presence in ³3 sites (<3 sites considered localized myofascial pain)
Signs and symptoms: hallmarks include tender points and nonrestorative sleep pattern; morning stiffness; subjective swelling that resolves in »1 hr; chronic fatigue; aggravated by sedentary lifestyle; modulated by weather, stress, and rest; headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, depression, and anxiety (sometimes panic attacks) common; reclassified as “central sensitivity syndromes”; female predominant; abnormal pain sensitivity in “nontender point” areas; no objective arthritis or weakness; normal CBC, ESR, muscle enzymes, and thyroid function; subset may have positive ANA or Raynaud phenomenon
18 tender point examination: 9 points on 2 sides; occiput, trapezius, periscapular, gluteal, medial fat pad of knee, greater trochanter, lateral epicondyle of elbow, second intercostal space of anterior chest wall, and bottom of sternocleidomastoid muscles; 5 of 18 points sufficient for diagnosis in children; large proportion of patients with fibromyalgia have coexistent joint hypermobility
Misdiagnoses: 30 patients referred for ongoing Lyme disease found to have fibromyalgia
Pathophysiology: unknown; sleep disorder common; disorder of serotonin metabolism likely
Treatment: reassurance; education; sleep modification (through use of amitriptyline or cyclobenzaprine); duloxetine and pregabalin (not approved by the Food and Drug Administration for fibromyalgia in children <18 yr of age); analgesics (nonnarcotic; NSAIDs not beneficial); aerobic exercise (low impact; graded endurance training); stress management
Musculoskeletal Pain Syndrome in Children — Back Pain
Robert M. Bernstein, MD, Associate Clinical Professor of Surgery, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles and Director of Pediatric Orthopaedics, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA
Background: back pain once thought to be rare in children, but now recognized as common; children rarely seek care or self-limit activities
Causes: mechanical abnormalities — trauma (eg, bruising, muscle strains, fracture [eg, spondylolysis]); developmental —Scheuermann disease (growth abnormality of spine); inflammatory — infection (osteomyelitis, discitis), rheumatologic abnormalities (eg, JRA, juvenile ankylosing spondylitis [JAS]); neoplastic — spinal cord; bone (osteoid osteoma or osteoblastoma); muscle; metastatic
History: pain onset and chronicity; radiation of pain to legs; numbness; weakness; generalized symptoms (fevers and/or weight loss); bowel and bladder symptoms; medications (if child frequently taking NSAIDs, then back pain significant)
Presentation-oriented approach to evaluation: night pain — red flag (warrants immediate evaluation); pain that regularly awakens child from sleep could be tumor (eg, eosinophilic granuloma, leukemia); infections; look for associated symptoms (fever, weight loss, or neurologic symptoms; self-limitation of activities); pain with generalized symptoms —red flag; fever or weight loss (suggest tumor or infection [eg, vertebral osteomyelitis]); acute pain — patient having pain for 1 to 2 wk (eg, herniated discs, apophyseal fractures, spondylolysis, infections, muscle strains); chronic pain — Scheuermann disease; spondyloarthropathies (eg, JAS); psychologic problems (definite association in families where one or both parents complain of back pain); pain with recent-onset scoliosis — in children seen for scoliosis, pain not usually presenting complaint; back pain that predates curvature warrants more careful evaluation for tumor or disc herniation (scoliosis results from tendency to move away from side of tumor or herniation; in such cases, rotation of spine minimal)
Presentation to emergency department for back pain in children: most commonly for trauma, muscle strains, sickle cell crises, urinary tract infections, and viral syndromes; does not necessarily correspond with cases seen in office
Physical examination: inspection — alignment; ability to bend to touch toes; motion — pain worse with forward bending indicates increased pressure of discs (eg, disc herniation); pain worse with hyperextension indicates posterior element pain (eg, spondylolysis); pain worse with lateral bend to one side determines which side of spine has problem; palpation — tenderness on percussion (tapping over tumor produces pain); straight-leg raise and flip sign — looking for radicular signs or pain down leg; flexion, abduction, external rotation (FABER) test — stresses ipsilateral sacroiliac joint to assess for pain in this area; abdominal reflexes — should be even on both sides
Diagnostic algorithm: Journal of Family Practice — child presents with back pain; perform history and physical; if abnormal, get radiographs and laboratory studies; treat diagnosis; if tests negative, order magnetic resonance imaging and computed tomography; if physical examination normal, prescribe NSAIDs, teach home exercises, and possibly refer patient to physical therapy; if patient improves, discharge
Red flags for pathologic problem: pain lasting >4 wk; self-imposed limitations; increasing pain; neurologic symptoms; recent-onset scoliosis; systemic symptoms (fever and/or weight loss); in absence of these symptoms, can still have pathologic problem; make sure not missing tumor or infection
Encourage good body mechanics: meet with coaches; make sure — coaches understand good body mechanics; patient doing preactivity stretching (talk to parents) and performing core strengthening exercises
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